RAISE THE ROOF!

Toby Keith, Montgomery Gentry and other stars love Nashville's hottest hangout

What if you were just having a drink at your favorite neighborhood bar and grill, and Toby Keith started rocking the house with no warning?

At Nashville hotspot The Tin Roof, that would come as no surprise.

"We've had many people come in and just jump onstage, which is always awesome," says owner Jason Sheer. "When Toby got up and sang 'Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue,' people went nutty!"

Toby isn't the only one to make an unscheduled appearance on the small wooden stage in the back of this Music City locale -- Chris Cagle, Deana Carter, Clay Walker and Mark Chesnutt have all done it.

"And it just goes on and on," says Jason. "Montgomery Gentry's hanging around in here a lot lately, and they've made it real clear they want to get up and play. We'd love to have 'em!"

Of course, not every country star who walks in the door is there to sing -- most are ready to eat! Phil Vassar, Neal McCoy, Barbara Mandrell and Joe Nichols are just a few of the regulars. In fact, it's easier for Jason to name the country singers who haven't stopped in.

"I think we've seen just about all of them except Tim, Faith and Garth Brooks," he chuckles. "On any given day we might feed two celebrities, the mayor, and struggling songwriters who barely have enough money to pay rent. It's a really good mix of people."

Those who've sampled the Roof's wares tend to single out a favorite dish and stick with it. "Phil Vassar always gets quesadillas," offers Jason. "Neal McCoy always gets a ham and cheese.

I try to convince them to branch out and get something else, but they won't!"

Those customers leave their mark -- literally. It's traditional here to sign the walls, whether you're a celebrity or not. "There's signatures all over the place," says Jason. "It's not like celebrities sign here and 'regular people' sign over there -- whoever wants to, just go for it!"

Jason and wife Libby -- whose two young sons regularly draw "aww"s from the customers around lunchtime -- opened the Roof in February 2002. "We're still growing," he says proudly. "What's happened is incredible."

And if you can't make it to The Tin Roof yourself, you may soon be able to watch it on TV -- a reality show based around the restaurant is being developed. "There's a lot of funny, entertaining things that go on behind the scenes," hints Jason. "We really hope something happens with that. We're keeping our fingers crossed."

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